Resident Evil Revelations Collection – Review
Like one of its famously implacable boss creatures, the Resident Evil series keeps mutating into new shapes. It also has the uncanny habit of getting back up again when you think it’s done and dusted.
Which brings us to Resident Evil Revelations Collection, a loose splicing together of two well-regarded franchise spin-offs from earlier in the decade.
Resident Evil Revelations and Resident Evil Revelations 2 are presented here on the Switch as a package – at least in North America where a physical release rolls them rather crudely together. Only the first game is on the cartridge, with a code for the sequel prompting a whopping 26GB download. They’re also coming to the eShop as individual downloads at tempting prices, too, which is the only option for Europe. While they share a moniker, an episodic structure and plenty of franchise DNA, however, these are two different beasts.
Most of those differences were determined years ago by the original choice of platforms. The first Revelations was made for the Nintendo 3DS and released back in 2012, while Revelations 2 was a cross-generational console game that launched three years later. In the here and now, Revelations remains a very good handheld Resident Evil, while Revelations 2 remains a very good console Resident Evil. It’s somewhat appropriate that they come together here on a machine that straddles both worlds.
If you find yourself situated in that part of the Venn diagram where Resident Evil and Nintendo crossover, you’ll likely have encountered the first Resident Evil Revelations already. Not only is it one of the very best third-party Nintendo 3DS games out there, it also received an HD re-release on Wii U in 2013.
It’s essentially that latter experience we’re getting here. This is a honed, condensed Resident Evil experience that harks back to the claustrophobic corridors and overt lock and key puzzles of the earlier games.
Regular protagonist Jill Valentine takes point on this one as she investigates a mutant-infested cruise ship. Mixing fusty ocean liner fittings with state of the art maintenance systems and creaking metal gantries, the Queen Zenobia a worthy and refreshing fill-in for the haunted mansions that have become such a series staple. And yes, there are zombie fish.
The main novelty to Revelation’s control setup is the Genesis system. Holding L lets you scan your environment for points of interest – whether that’s fallen enemies of hidden items. It works in a similar way to Metroid Prime’s scanning system, though it’s mercifully simpler to ‘100%’ a level.
Resident Evil Revelations was built as a portable experience, and it remains a fine game to play on the Switch in handheld mode. Each episode is relatively snappy to play through, often lasting just 10 to 20 minutes, while you’ll get a helpful ‘Previously’ cutscene at the beginning of every restart.
Meanwhile the game’s graphics, while perfectly fine and sharpened up for more capable hardware, better suit being played on a smaller display where the basic textures and simple geometry are less noticeable.
Which brings us to Resident Evil Revelations 2, arguably the more interesting game of the two for Switch owners. This is the first time we’ve seen it on a Nintendo console, after all, with the original release making it to every console of the time except the Wii U. Beyond that, it’s just a better game than Revelations. It’s sharper and deeper, with a more sophisticated (and self aware) plot, richer level design and punchier combat.
In general technical terms, though, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is on a much higher level than the original. The lighting effects, while hardly cutting edge, are much more effective at setting a creepy mood, while the textures are more varied and the levels stretch out more expansively.
Revelations 2 even feels a little tighter in the hands – perhaps as a result of the game being built with a traditional control setup in mind rather than for a handheld console reliant on quirky controls and an optional second Circle Pad. Simple things like selecting weapons and throwing sub-weapons simply feel more intuitive in Revelations 2.
Resident Evil Revelations Collection isn’t really a collection, as such. There’s no significant connective tissue between these two distinct games beyond a few common elements and a shared fictional history. It would have been nice to see some kind of effort put into presenting a unified front, with a common UI and a synced up approach to controls.
A certain sense of porting laziness aside, though, these are two fine entries that stand proud in a storied franchise. The original Resident Evil Revelations was a great 3DS game at the time, and it remains a surprisingly solid, refreshingly breezy experience here on Switch.
Revelations 2 is where it’s really at, though. This is a full fat Resident Evil experience with a neat partner system and some terrifyingly tense set pieces. There’s a strong case to be made that you should ignore the original (especially if you’ve played it already) and simply purchase this prime slab of survival horror, but completionists won’t be disappointed either way.